The Imo State government has forbidden traditional rulers from speaking English or any other foreign language at public functions or in their palaces while conducting affairs of their communities.
Governor Rochas Okorocha, who gave the directive, said the monarchs could use interpreters, if the need arises.
Okorocha spoke while handing over letters of recognition and staff of office to 19 traditional rulers.
The governor noted that “Igbo language must not be allowed to die, as being predicted in some quarters”.
He urged the monarchs to be agents of peace and prosperity in their domains “instead of being tools of disunity and destabilisation”.
Okorocha warned that any traditional ruler who cannot show genuine leadership in his community could have his Certificate of Recognition and Staff of Office withdrawn.
He said: “Today, history is made that light has come and darkness would not comprehend at all. The truth has surfaced and the right people have finally become the custodian of the traditional rights of their people. You are not permitted to speak English at functions. This will help to keep our culture and Igbo language alive.
“For many years, most of you have been looking for a day like this. Some of you were victims of injustice and never believed that this could be possible; most of you have been waiting without knowing your fate. But today, it is a manifest of truth that your people have chosen you, and the government of Imo State has approved.
“I took the bold step of reconciling people, to ensure that truth came to be, and voided the rancour that existed in various communities over Eze title. This has equally affected the Community Government Council (CGC) negatively because every community requires an Eze to function effectively as the head of the Community Government Council.
“Today, that responsibility has fallen on you. I urge you not to fail, as failure is not an option. I encourage you to help the government in developing the resources of our land. Posterity will only remember you for your positive contributions in the development of your communities and not in how much wealth you amassed as an Eze.”